Those of us in fan fiction have the power to grant happy endings. This is one of several. Thanks to Kim for the idea. Thanks to Sue for her patience. This is the step and the last written public story in the Chip/Serena storyline.
She was asleep by the time I finally came in. It was so sudden, we weren’t expecting anything for another two weeks at least. Lee damn near broke every speed record he had ever set with FS1 getting us home. I think the reactor was still cooling down.
I sank down into the chair next to the hospital bed and reached out, brushing a strand of auburn hair away from her eyes. She moved under my touch and opened her eyes, focusing on me. “Hey green eyes. How you feeling?” I asked. Serena smiled at me, a tired, proud watery smile that tugged at my heart. Gods, she was beautiful. I could never convince her of that, in all the time I’ve known her. It had been hard enough convincing her I loved her.
“Tired. Have you seen her yet?”
“I wanted to check on you first. Granddad and Uncle Lee are with her.”
“She’s beautiful,” Serena whispered softly. I took her hands in both of mine, running my thumbs over the back of her knuckles.
“So is her mother. Why don’t you settle back down? I’ll check on our daughter.”
Serena closed her eyes, still smiling. “Grace. Her name is Grace,” she said as she drifted off. I bent down and kissed my wife on the forehead.
“Get some rest. I love you.”
“’Love you, too,” she breathed. I stood up to see Lee standing in the doorway. He had an odd look on his face as he watched me. Last July Wendy gave birth to the next generation of Cranes, twin little boys with their daddy’s eyes and hair. Philip Nelson and Anthony Lee Crane. It was too early yet to know if they had inherited their father’s attraction for trouble. Lee had already walked this road. He knew what I was feeling. I didn’t have to explain anything to him. But his expression had me puzzled.
“Something wrong, Lee?” I asked, feeling the butterflies in my stomach twitch. God, was something wrong with the baby? Please let everything be all right. It would kill Serena to have something happen to the baby now, after all this time.
But Lee only shook his head. “No, nothing’s wrong actually. Grace is doing fine. How’s Serena?”
I followed Lee out, heading up to the nursery. “Fine. Tired, but I guess that’s to be expected. How was Wen after she had the twins?”
“Tired. We have our hands full. Hope you’ve gotten caught up on your sleep,” Lee replied with a crooked grin. I could tell something was still tugging at my friend’s mind, but I didn’t have time to ponder anything further. We were admitted to the nursery without question and I found the strangest sight.
My boss, mentor, superior officer and father-in-law was seated in a rocking chair, my daughter in his arms. He had the cheesiest grin on his face as he looked up at us. Those sapphire eyes that could bore holes through a six-inch titanium bulkhead sparkled and danced as he rocked slowly. The expression on his rugged face was indescribable. Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined the day when the venerable Admiral Harriman Nelson would be caught dead rocking a baby. Of course, it was his grandchild. His granddaughter.
“Chip, you sire beautiful grandchildren,” the admiral said to me. He might be my father-in-law, but he always will be The Admiral. I walked over to him as he lifted my daughter up for me to hold. Wendy had been drilling into me how to hold a baby since my nephews where born. This was the easy part.
Grace Marie Morton stirred in her sleep, yawning as I held her close. I studied her carefully, counting fingers and marveling at the tiny hands and fingernails, the perfection of her features. She was indeed beautiful. Everything was so small, her tiny nose, tiny perfect ears, she was simply perfect. “Thank you, sir, but I had a little help,” I replied. Nelson rose to his feet and gave my shoulder a squeeze.
“I’ll go up and check on my daughter. You and yours should take this chance to introduce yourselves.” He guided me to the chair and I sank down, Grace still cradled in my arms.
“Hello, little one. I’m your daddy. Nice to finally met you after all these months. We probably need to lay down some ground rules. No boys till you’re at least thirty,” I said. I heard Lee chuckling.
My daughter. She was real and sleeping in my arms. Serena was so dead certain she couldn’t have children. She held back marrying me solely because of that. It took me months to convince her I loved her, no matter what. If she couldn’t have kids, we would adopt. We even considered asking my sister Deanna to be a surrogate for us. It never came to that. I woke up one morning to the sounds of Serena being violently ill in the bathroom. I did what any normal red-blooded male would do.
I thought for sure my wife had come down with some fatal illness. She swore up and down it was just a stomach virus. I called Jamie. I won’t repeat what my wife called me.
That’s how we found out she was pregnant. Shock gave way to joy. Joy gave way to anticipation as her pregnancy wore on. She was terrified she would miscarry. I swore to her that no matter what, I loved her. Nothing on this earth would change that.
Grace fussed a little, but settled down quickly. With the heel of one foot, I rocked the chair a little, feeling more content and happy than I had in years. I hadn’t realized Wendy had come in and was standing by her husband in the doorway. Lee had one arm around her shoulder and she had one arm around his waist.
“See, I told you he was a natural,” Wendy was saying as she smiled at me. For months I kept freaking out that I was going to mess this up but Wendy kept telling me not to worry. I’d know what to do when the time came. Sometimes baby sisters are right. What are you doing here? Who’s got the twins?”
“Mary Rose had the day off and I left twins with her. I had a doctor’s appointment. We hadn’t counted on Serena delivering two weeks early, so I had to keep it.
I didn’t look up, still entranced by my daughter. “Everything okay?”
“Sure. Peachy. Lee’s still a little in shock but he’s resilient. He’ll recover.”
I looked up to see my sister give her husband a quick peck on the cheek. Wendy had loved Lee for years. I still don’t know who I was happiest for, my sister for finding someone who made her happy, or Lee for finding a woman who understood him and loved him for who he is and not his rank. It took a few minutes for my sister’s bland comments to sink in. I remember the odd expression on Lee’s face. I was a little slow on the uptake considering the circumstances, but understanding slowly dawned on me. “Are you two . . . again?”
My brother-in-law beamed. “We were going to wait to tell you. You have enough on your hands right now.”
“That’s great, you two! Really! Serena’s going to be tickled. Boy or girl this time?”
Wendy grinned. “Who knows, maybe both?” she giggled as Lee pulled her closer.
Twins ran in my family. My grandmother was a twin and my mom was a twin. I had a twin at birth, but he died of SIDS before he was twenty-four hours old. I had twin sisters, Mary Rose and Deanna May. Lee was warned before he married my sister that the chances of her throwing twins were pretty darn good. He laughed at me and married her any way. Now who’s laughing, pal?
The admiral had come back, the expression of pride and joy still dominate in his eyes.
“I suppose you’ll be wanting some time off?” he mock-growled at me.
“Well, I would like a little time with my wife and daughter before I disappear again.”
Nelson laughed, really laughed, coming to stand by my shoulder. In my arms, my daughter stirred and opened her eyes. She looked up at me, with Serena’s green eyes, almost as if studying me. Serena’s eyes. She had Serena’s eyes. I brushed my fingers across the top of her head, feeling the fine wispy threads of what promised to be blonde hair.
“You did good, Mister Morton. Carry on.” Nelson said with a second quick squeeze.
“Aye-aye, sir. I certainly will. We certainly will.” My daughter continued to look up at me and I swear to you she winked.
My heart froze. She had my wife’s eyes and my hair. What else had my daughter inherited? Would she have a sense of adventure? Where would it come from; me, her mother, or her grandfather?
Hopefully I had a few years before the answer would be revealed. Only time would tell.
*When I first got into Voyage the first thing I did was sit down and try to draw out a family tree for everyone. I somehow always saw Chip as the only son in a large family. His father is an Illinois State Police, his mother is a physical therapist. Chip has four sisters, all younger. Danielle, Wendy, and twins Deanna May and Mary Rose. Danielle is a CSI with the Cook county police in Illinois. Wendy eventually becomes N.I.M.R.’s head of security and Deanna and Mary Rose are both registered nurses and working at N.I.M.R.’s Med Bay, under the direction of William Jamieson.